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Fall Foliage Without Leaving NYC

By Jessica Allen

Mother Nature puts on quite a show every fall, no? And some of the best colors are to be seen upstate, no doubt, but you can also espy tons of amazing fall foliage without leaving the city limits. It’s true! Below are our picks for the best spots to peep some kaleidoscopic leaves, all within hailing distance of a taxi.

Central Park
Fifth Avenue and East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022
(212) 310-6600
www.centralparknyc.org

You might be surprised to learn that Central Park is actually the city’s second largest park. No matter. Some 20,000 trees thrive here, from the landscaped Sheep Meadow with the skyline just beyond to the wild-on-purpose Ramble. There are American Elms, Norway Maples, Shagbark Hickory, and Cedars of Lebanon. We could go on, but you probably get the point: for an easy, incredible way to check out foliage without leaving the confines of Manhattan, head to Central Park. You won’t be disappointed, and you can’t go wrong with a classic walk along The Mall.

Forest Park
1 Forest Drive
Woodhaven Boulevard and Forest Park Drive
Woodhaven, NY 11421
(718) 235-0815
www.nycgovparks.org

Bustling as New York might be, there are nevertheless pockets filled with peace, places you can go where you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve left the five boroughs and landed somewhere far more rural. Forest Park, in Queens, is one such place. Nestled within its 500+ acres are some 165 acres of trees, thereby putting the “forest” in Forest Park. Much of the eastern part of the park is crisscrossed with long bridle paths and hiking trails, in contrast to the playing fields and golf courses of its western side. Head east, and don’t be afraid to wander until the sounds of the city completely disappear.

Fort Tryon Park
Fort Washington Avenue and Cabrini Boulevard
New York, NY 10040
(212) 795-1388
www.nycgovparks.org

Fort Tryon Park is home to the Cloisters, the branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to medieval European art and architecture. The park’s also home to over 500 species of plants and trees, eight miles of paths, and, perhaps best of all, incredible views of the New Jersey Palisades. These steep, tree-covered cliffs rise up out of the Hudson, giving us some small sense of what life was like in and near upper Manhattan way, way back. You can’t help but expect a dinosaur, or, at the very least, a mammoth, to charge out of the thick density of rock and leaves.

New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, NY 10458
(718) 817-8700
www.nybg.org

The largest botanical garden in the United States was founded in 1891, and continues today as a “living museum” devoted to all things that grow in nature. This Bronx oasis offers visitors around 50 gardens to walk through, ogle, and admire, including the Marjorie G. Rosen Seasonal Walk, whose perennials bloom well into November, and an old-growth forest, with a rugged landscape cut by glaciers and trails forged by Native Americans. To get a sense of what you might glimpse at the gardens before hopping on a train, check out NYBG’s live Fall Color Cam.

Prospect Park
95 Prospect Park West
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 965-8951
www.prospectpark.org

Taking note of both the beauty and the benefits of Central Park when it opened in 1858, the people of Brooklyn (then a separate city from New York) wanted a park of their own. Within a decade, Prospect Park was created from almost 600 wild acres, transformed into the natural wonder it is today. When it comes to leaf-peeping, the trees of the woodland are particularly noteworthy, of course, but pretty much everywhere you look you’ll see something worth seeing. The park was meant to give residents a sense of peace, a touch of awe, and a lot of nature amid the urban environment.

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